Gratitude and worship are closely connected. We worship God by thinking and expressing our thanks. He is the recipient of our wrapped up gifts of thanks.
Today, I want to focus on being th(i)nkful to God for people, not just things. It is easy to focus on being thankful for health or comforts or gifts or recent events that brought joy, but people are more important than things. For one, people will live somewhere forever; events will fade from memory and the things we can see will all burn one day. Let’s focus on thanking God for the people who have affected us.
One of my favorite people in the Bible is Mary of Bethany. In the three settings we find her, there is much to learn, but my favorite is when she pours out the precious perfume on the Lord Jesus a few days before He was to die on the cross. There are three truths that stand out to me in the way she gratefully worships.
Mary Gave Extravagantly
Mary of Bethany gave an extraordinary gift to Jesus in Mark 14:3. She broke an alabaster box filled with precious spikenard perfume and poured the ointment on Jesus. Jesus was visiting Bethany six days before his crucifixion and had been invited to a meal at Simon’s house. Resurrected Lazarus was seated at the table, and Martha was serving. Mary took a costly treasure, worth a person’s yearly wage (about $50,000.00 today), and poured it out on Jesus. Her act was taken by Jesus as preparation for His upcoming burial (Mark 14:8). John tells us the house was filled with the odor of the ointment (John 12:3). Imagine spending $50,000 for something that would disappear in a few minutes! She was obviously convinced of who Jesus really was, and must have strongly sensed that his death was close.
Mary Grabbed an Opportunity
Mary with her siblings, Martha and Lazarus, were friends of Jesus. John 11:5 records that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. He had visited their home earlier and taught lessons about choosing the “better part” of sitting and listening at His feet (Luke 10:18-42). He had also come to them in Bethany four days after Lazarus had died and raised him from the dead (John 11). Now, He was again with them in Bethany, and Mary grabbed the opportunity of worshipping Him with probably her greatest treasure, the alabaster flask containing costly spikenard perfume. She didn’t hold back. She poured out her treasure on her even greater Treasure, the Lord Jesus, in preparation for his death and burial. She knew from experience that He had the power to raise people from the dead. Although she may not have known all the details of how Christ would die and rise again, her faith, garbed with devotion, was strong and committed.
Mary Was Given Honor
Mary’s act was shamed and ridiculed by people around her. They were indignant about the supposed waste that she had done – so expensive, no special event, and now it was all just gone. Jesus defends her. I love this part. He accepts her work of worship and commends her to the point of saying that wherever the gospel is preached throughout the whole world, this story will be mentioned as a memorial to her. I am doing that right here in 2017. Mary’s act of costly worship is an intense example for us and she was given honor for her act.
So How Does That Affect Me
What would be my extravagant gift of worship that I could pour out on my Savior?
Do I take advantage of opportunities for sacrifice or expressing my thanks as I move through my day? Am I feverishly gathering the wood, hay, and stubble of the here and now, or am I giving up current enjoyments to invest in gold, silver, and precious stones for the crowning day of my King, the Lord Jesus?
I Corinthians 3:12-14 states that at the Evaluation Seat of Christ all our works will be tested by fire. We’re not sure how our works will materialize into fuel nor what this fire will look like, but we are left to ponder the “burn-down factor” – what are we doing here and how that will survive the fire? Jesus said we can actually “lay up treasure in heaven” – pass our time, energies, and finances through an unseen membrane out of this life and into heaven.
I am certainly th(i)nkful for the hope I have in Jesus. Because He came and died, and rose again, I have been reconciled to God. I can completely rely on Jesus’ promise in John 3:16 – if I believe in Him, I will not perish.
BUT, then there is also the issue of what I am doing with my life. I do wonder if, when I get to the great Evaluation Seat, I will wish that I had lived my life differently, taken more risks, given more extravagantly, and walked away from more comforts for the cause of the gospel. Am I entranced by time, or do I have eternity stamped on the back of my eyelids?
As you cultivate the thinking of thanks this week, who is a person, living or dead, that you admire and for whom you are thankful to God? I would love to hear who and why.
“She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:8-9